Sharing for Science - High-Resolution Trophic Interactions Revealed Rapidly by Social Media

Publisher:
Robin Maritz, Bryan Maritz
Publication Date:
6 August 2020
Tags:
South Africa, Science and Biotechnology, Wildlife

Discrete, ephemeral natural phenomena with low spatial or temporal predictability are incredibly challenging to study systematically. In ecology, species interactions, which constitute the functional backbone of ecological communities, can be notoriously difficult to characterise especially when taxa are inconspicuous and the interactions of interest (e.g., trophic events) occur infrequently, rapidly, or variably in space and time. Overcoming such issues has historically required significant time and resource investment to collect sufficient data, precluding the answering of many ecological and evolutionary questions. Here, we show the utility of social media for rapidly collecting observations of ephemeral ecological phenomena with low spatial and temporal predictability by using a Facebook group dedicated to collecting predation events involving reptiles and amphibians in sub-Saharan Africa.

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